Glenwood Springs rings in new year with pockets full of grant money | PostIndependent.com

Glenwood Springs rings in new year with pockets full of grant money

In this February 2018 file photo, drivers work to avoid the perennial pot holes that pop up on South Midland Avenue in Glenwood Springs.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Glenwood Springs has plenty of New Year’s infrastructure resolutions, and thanks largely to lobbying campaigns by City Council members and staff, the city heads into 2019 with millions of dollars in grant money ready to flow.

“We have secured just over $8 million in 2018 in grant funding,” Glenwood Springs City Manager Debra Figueroa confirmed.

Specifically, where will all of that money go?

South Midland Avenue rebuild

The rocky stretch of South Midland Avenue that has remained on the city’s to-do list year-after-year received a boost in the form of a $7 million federal Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant in late December.

“I think the key on that was getting the support of all of our congressional delegation,” Glenwood Springs Mayor Michael Gamba said of a trip he made to Washington, D.C. to garner support for the South Midland project.

According to Gamba, a few key calls, specifically one between Congressman Scott Tipton and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao helped significantly in securing the grant.

“We got [Rep. Tipton] to call [Secretary Chao] first, and then we were able to convince our senators to call, and I believe that probably pushed us over the finish line,” Gamba explained.

Additionally, the city received a $151,750 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), which has already been earmarked for rock fall mitigation on the project slated for construction later this year.

27th Street Bridge

Construction activities began Wednesday to replace the worst-rated bridge in the state, Glenwood’s 27th Street Bridge.

Assisting the city in being able to proceed with the project’s complex slide construction method were three key grants. Those include a $950,000 state Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance grant, a $500,000 Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District grant, and an additional $500,000 from the Federal Highway Administration Off-System Bridge Program.

The construction also includes a new, neighboring pedestrian bridge. The 27th Street Bridge replacement project has a tentative completion date of Nov. 30, 2019.

Smaller projects

“We have also been successful with smaller grants to improve quality of life projects,” Figueroa said.

These smaller grants include $25,000 from Pitkin County Healthy Rivers, a $32,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation for an e-ride, on-demand transit planning project, and funding from Garfield FMLD for a drone to assist with wildland fire response, Figueroa explained.

“The grant funding is accounted for within the 2019 budget, if we were aware of the funding while we were approving the budget. If we were not, the budget will have to be amended in 2019,” Figueroa added.

Figueroa said large awards like the BUILD grant will allow existing funds the city thought it would need to spend in 2019, to remain in reserves until City Council determines their future use.

“As I have always said, we have a lot more wants and needs than we have dollars,” Gamba said on Wednesday. “Now, we have a few more dollars and we might get a few more of those needs met.”

The funds secured last year come on top of various grants awarded in prior years for projects including the Seventh Street beautification efforts, as well as planning related to creating a better connection between key areas in the main downtown and north Glenwood areas.

mabennett@postindependent.com